Who are the Mormons? LDS vs. FLDS

I think I’ve made some pretty strong comments about the whole FLDS mess, so I’m glad I was able to read this book.  It is amazing and fascinating, and I couldn’t stop reading it.  Written by the fourth wife of Merril_Jessop , a powerful leader in the FLDS and head of the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado, Texas, it’s an eye-opener.  She gives a firsthand look at what living in a polygamous family is like, as well as describing how the group changed under the leadership of Warren Jeffs, becoming more and more repressive until they simply did not allow themselves to think or feel.


The family dynamics of a household with half a dozen wives competing for the attention of one husband (because they have been taught that their only salvation is through pleasing their husband and bearing many children) is positively horrific.  In theirs, competition was vicious, and children were taught to spy and report on their siblings and mothers.  The sister wives, though they must work together, must be very careful in their behavior toward each other or they will be reported to Father.  The pressure would be massive.  And the police in Carolyn’s town were all FLDS, so if a wife decided to leave against her husband’s wishes, there was nowhere to go, no one to help.


And if your thoughts ever strayed from what the prophet said was acceptable, you certainly couldn’t admit it.  There was always someone anxious to curry favor by reporting you.  After I finished this book, I watched a couple of the interviews with wives from the Texas ranch, and now I can see why they talk as they do.  That robotic, sweet attitude is the only way that they can survive. 


The sad thing, though, is that when they truly believe that this is the only way to heaven and that outsiders are all wicked people who are trying to pull them away from God, it’s pretty hard to rescue them.  And most of these  people have been raised with this belief all their lives, so why would they question it?  Something like the raid in Texas only reinforces their belief. 


I found it interesting the way the group changed under Warren Jeffs.  It was gradual, but in incremental stages, he began to outlaw individuality.  Clothes became more of an issue–one day he outlawed the color red, then large prints, then plaids, and eventually only soft pastels were allowed.  And no one questioned the prophet–God was calling them in these last times to live by a higher standard.   He had the revelation that they should purge themselves of all worldly literature, so the people destroyed their libraries, including children’s books.  Once, a small boy was killed by a pit bull, so the prophet declared that all dogs must be done away with.  And they were.


They were told that the news was nothing but lies, and TV, radio, internet and newspapers were declared to be off limits.  The public schools in the town were closed, because they were teaching things that were not according to FLDS beliefs.  Children were discouraged from seeking higher education, boys were sent away to work on construction crews at 12 years old, girls were married at increasingly younger ages. 


And of course, with men having so many wives, there weren’t enough to go around.  So many of the younger men were found “unworthy of the kingdom” and were simply expelled from the community to find their own way in a world they had been taught was inhabited by infidels who only wanted to harm them.


After reading this, I am far more understanding of the way the whole YFZ Ranch raid was handled.  People who are brainwashed for generations simply may not have the capacity to think and reason for themselves.  I still think that the children should stay with their biological mothers, but only if they agree to intensive counseling.  Those women are the closest thing to Stepford Wives mentality that I would ever want to see.  Even though I knew in theory that these things happened, seeing it through the eyes of a woman who has been there made me realize that it goes far deeper than I could have ever imagined.  Even after Carolyn brought her eight children out and they lived in the “normal” world for several years, her daughter chose to go back to the FLDS when she turned 18.  Such is the power of faith, faith in a man rather than God.


In doing a little research on FLDS after reading this book, I was very surprised to find a video which interviews at length people who joined polygamous groups from the outside.  I believe all of them had been Mormon (LDS) before, and were obviously devout.  In their study of the book of Mormon and Joseph Smith’s writings, they had realized that in order to completely follow Joseph Smith, their prophet, one simply had to follow the doctrine of having plural wives.  I found it really interesting to hear about their journeys.  I just had never really thought of people joining these groups from the outside.  It’s an excellent video, but quite long.  I thought I would skip through it quickly, but ended up being captivated by the stories and watched most of it.  I’d highly recommend it.


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About dayuntoday

I'm a wonderer. I spend a lot of time mulling, pondering, and cogitating. This is just a place to park some of those thoughts.
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10 Responses to Who are the Mormons? LDS vs. FLDS

  1. mom1945 says:

    The concept of group mentality living under the control of one person or one organization, and the bain washing and contentment to stay there because it has become their comfort zone has some scary parallels. Let’s never stop thinking for ourselves under the direction of the Holy Spirit. 1Corin. 2:10 “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” John 5:39 “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” We need to know why we believe what we do, based on God’s Word!A good post!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I wanted to watch the whole video (I made it through about 15 minutes of it) but I don’t have time right now.  I want to come back to it though.

  3. ElizabethDNB says:

    Again, I have to say that I do not see the problem as polygamy, but as bad cult type leaders and laws that force people into hiding where they can then abuse children or whatever becaus ethey are shut off from the rest of the world.  If it was not illegal and someone (over 18 and not related closely) felt that this is what they were freely choosing, for religous reasons or whatever, they could live totally normal non-creepy compound lives without a cult mentality and fear of the outside world.

  4. Fantastic …posted it on my blog …hope you don’t mind – dale

  5. homefire says:

    @ElizabethDNB – I really recommend that you read the book.  I thought the same as you, that a person could have a polygamous relationship without it being so very awful.  But honestly, after reading her experience, I’m seeing that it would be really, really difficult to maintain a peaceful, happy home if there is more than one wife.  They always compete, and the competition often got very ugly in Carolyn’s family.  There was also the issue of the children, who recieved different treatment from their different mothers, and often were abused by their mother’s sister wives, and had to learn to live a double life as a result.  Obviously, this family was a very bad one, and it sounds as if the family that Carolyn grew up in was much better, but her mother was still very unhappy.  She was not the favored wife, and also eventually left her husband even though he was kind to her.  After reading this, I sincerely doubt that polygamy could ever produce balanced, happy children.  For one thing, I don’t think anyone would stay in the siutation for long if they weren’t brainwashed that it’s the only way!  I can’t even imagine sharing my husband!

  6. BooksForMe says:

    Doug and I sat and watched this (after watching news about Palin!) and I am so glad we took the time.  It is long, but it is very, very good.  Very well done, and such a powerful witness.  Praise God!  He is so good.  I was very struck by how devout these folks were—so devout they became Fundamentalists!  Yet, when the misery their choice made them despise their own lives, they still believed in God and continued t seek truth.  And, He lead them all to Himself!  That is so awesome!  Such a powerful film.  We must not see anyone as a lost cause, or so brainwashed they cannot believe Truth.  God doesn’t give up on anyone, no matter the choices of their life so far.  He sent His Son that ALL should be saved, and I believe He is ALWAYS seeking the lost and drawing them to Himself.  He loves us all.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for posting this. I watched the whole thing and it was really good!

  8. lglavy says:

    I just finished reading “Stolen Innocence” by Elissa Wall.  It was the same…just so hard to imagine trying to maintain peace in a family of multiple wives and many many children.  She talked about the spying and reporting that went on and the constant looking over your shoulder.  They were taught to ‘keep sweet’.  That means do as you are told and don’t question anyone or anything.  She was forced to marry at 14 to a boy who she hated and who had mistreated her by taunting and teasing and making fun when she was a child.  She had no choice, and begged many times to not have to marry him and later to be released from the marriage.  She finally left.  A truly sobering book and somewhat too close to home in some ways . 

  9. PolkaDotAlot says:

    I am glad I took the time this morning to watch this video…brought to light some things I did not know about the Mormons.  A prayer of thankfulness that I was raised knowing “JESUS” and not Joseph Smith is on my heart today.

  10. Not sure where Books4Me stands on this, but each of the branches of the LDS, including the FLDS, are equally heretical, and I do not say that simply as the usual raving fundamental or zealous evangelical Christian, but from concern based on study, interaction, and friends in their ranks.  I would encourage each of you to study both them and scripture, that you might be prepared should the Lord bring you the opportunity to reach them personally.  As for the idea of polygamy, and my honey agrees on this, Scripture may not clearly condemn it (…although Jesus gave a pretty strong hint….) but even the Bible gives example of the problems of polygamy.

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